So, I went out to buy something to eat and to return an overdue rental, and I ended up at the 10:15 p.m. showing of “The Last Samurai.” I only had vague intentions of seeing this movie, really. I used to be a die hard Tom Cruise fan, but every work of his after “Eyes Wide Shut” really lost its appeal for me. Still, out of the choices available at my local theatre, only this one and “Love Actually” appealed to me, and as I’d already seen “LA,” I decided to go to this one.
It was a film well done, but predictably so. It will probably top the box office for this weekend – the theatre was full, which for a 10:15 show is pretty good – and it’s more deserving of that popularity than some predescessors. There was a fair amount of convincingly acting by Tom Cruise, even, (which isn’t something you can bank on in every Tom Cruise film), but not an incredibly wide range of it. The story was predictable in many aspects — the end result seemed clear, but the path to it was a little different, a little better than I expected. The actor who played Kasumoto was brilliant, but I have a weakness for Japanese warrior characters in general. 😉 The story is about a disillusioned American Captain (Cruise), a veteran of the Civil War and later frontier wars with Native Americans, who is recruited by his former lieutenant to train regiments of Japanese men to fight against the “rebel” Kasumoto. Kasumoto is a former teacher of the Emperor, who is trying to modernize Japan. Kasumoto’s rebellion is, to Kasumoto, a service to the Emperor – he is trying to convince him not to wholly abandon the ways of the samurai. Cruise’s character is captured by Kasumoto early in the film, and the rest of the film, as Roger Ebert says, “is about two warriors whose cultures make them aliens, but whose values make them comrades.”
The final battle sequences were a bit too long for me. In some ways, it felt as though the director and cinematographer fell in love with the glory of their choreography in these scenes, and wanted every last story to be seen (sometimes twice). I can say with an effort that the ending was a bit too contrived, but while watching, it worked fine for me. Beyond that, the movie was really pretty good. I’m not sure it’s at all historically instructive or even graceful in its attempts at giving meaning to the lives of its main characters, but, you know, it’s not a bad movie for a Saturday night when it’s cold and there’s not much else playing.
At least tomorrow, I get to see a film that I *know* is good. Speaking of which, I was tempted to buy tickets to the 12:01 a.m. showing of “Return of the King” while standing in line tonight, but I didn’t. It’s probably better for me if I save seeing that movie until all of my finals have passed, meaning I’ll be watching it either directly after my Spanish final (7:30-10:30 p.m. on the 17th) or the next day.
Also, speaking of movies, there were about 700 previews for this one. How much do I want to see “Troy“? Very, very much. Orlando Bloom as Paris seems really perfect to me, and Brad Pitt, as always, seems really perfect in general.